Architect designed two houses for Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, linked by a bridge
Despite local comment, O’Gorman’s work was popular with his circle of influential friends, including Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, for whom he built two individual functionalist houses linked by a bridge. These houses are now open to the public and have been preserved as they would have been when the couple lived there in the 1930s.
It was during this decade that a wider interest in O’Gorman’s architectural style was piqued and between 1932 and 1934, he worked for the Department of Education in Mexico, building 26 elementary schools under the principles the “engineer-architect” school of thought - maximising functionality and minimising cost.
However, despite the success of these schools, O’Gorman became dissatisfied with functionalism and began to move away from it towards organic architecture. He even denounced his previous association with the style, saying it had simply allowed the wealthy to create further profits by cutting building costs.
He began to paint murals influenced by the surrealist-modernist style of Diego Rivera. The most famous of these, Historia de Michoacán (1941-42), deals with both pre-Columbian history and the colonisation of Mexico. Many of his murals were overtly socialist and anti-fascist, which led to his murals in Mexico City’s first airport being removed in 1939 just two years after they had been completed.